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MINSK MAYOR DENIES BANNING OPPOSITION CONGRESS. Minsk Mayor Mikhail Paulau told journalists on 7 September that he has never prohibited the opposition from holding a congress in the capital to nominate an opposition candidate for the 2006 presidential election, Belapan reported. Paulau confirmed that the organizers of the congress applied for the relevant permission to the mayoralty, but added that it referred them to owners of premises that can host such events. Alyaksandr Dabravolski, deputy chairman of the opposition United Civic Party, told RFE/RL's Belarus Service on 7 September that the city authorities have not formally banned the gathering, but the organizers have no real opportunity to hold the congress in Belarus. He said the organizers approached all halls in Minsk and other cities across Belarus, but had their requests turned down. Alyaksandr Bukhvostau, head of the congressional organizing committee, said the previous day that local authorities across Belarus have denied the committee venues for holding the congress, which is expected to bring together some 800 delegates and guests. The committee is reportedly considering holding the congress in Ukraine or Russia. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SACKS CABINET, TOP SECURITY OFFICIAL. President Viktor Yushchenko on 8 September dismissed the cabinet of Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko and accepted the resignation of National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) Secretary Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian media reported. Yushchenko told a special news conference that the government has lost its "team spirit," adding that many high-ranking government officials have forgotten about Orange Revolution ideals and begun advertising themselves to the public. Yushchenko also said he will ask Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Governor Yuriy Yekhanurov to form a new cabinet. Yekhanurov, as head of the State Property Fund under former President Leonid Kuchma, oversaw initial privatization in Ukraine in 1994-1997. JM

UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PREMIER TENDERS RESIGNATION... Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Tomenko said at a news conference in Kyiv on 8 September that he has tendered his resignation, citing corruption in the government, Ukrainian media reported. "I have realized that some steal while others are dismissed. I don't want to share responsibility with those people who have created a system of corruption," Tomenko said. "I don't want to work in a government in which it is possible to resolve any issue by addressing [just] two or three necessary people," he added. Tomenko said Ukraine has currently two cabinets -- an unofficial "oligarchic" one chaired by National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) Secretary Petro Poroshenko and a lawful one headed by Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko. "The president [Viktor Yushchenko] hardly knows what the real situation looks like in Ukraine," Tomenko asserted. Tomenko's resignation follows that of presidential staff chief Oleksandr Zinchenko, who earlier this week accused the president's inner circle, including Poroshenko, of corruption (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 2005). JM

...AS DO TOP SECURITY OFFICIALS. RNBO Secretary Poroshenko issued a statement on 8 September saying that he is stepping down so as not to obstruct an official investigation into Zinchenko's charges against him and other presidential aides, Ukrainian media reported. "I realize that my further remaining in the post of RNBO secretary may be seen as an opportunity to exert pressure on the investigation," Poroshenko said. "[Therefore] I made a decision and yesterday submitted to the president a request to resign." Poroshenko stressed that Zinchenko's corruption allegations "have cynically and grossly affected" his honor and dignity. The Verkhovna Rada on 8 September supported a motion to strip Poroshenko of his parliamentary mandate, citing the law that prohibits officials from holding simultaneously a post in the government and a parliamentary seat. The same day, the Ukrainian Security Service chief Oleksandr Turchynov also tendered his resignation. "I think that the dismissal of the government under the current circumstances threatens Ukraine's national security," Turchynov said in a statement. JM